Small Business Networking

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Social media has by far increased throughout the years and more businesses are seeing that they are falling short if they don’t have a page for their business on FB, Twitter, IG, LinkedIn, Google+ etc. Besides posting about the business regularly, face to face networking is still a very important part to generate sales leads and even help other start up businesses. Going to networking events such as an expo, you will have a more direct connection unlike being in contact with someone online in which you don’t know what their intentions may be.

Yesterday, March 3rd 2016, I attended the expo for the second year in a row. I felt this year around, the results weren’t the same as they were last year. Speaking with several other entrepreneurs, they stated “parking was horrible due to the construction taking place across the street where there was a parking lot.” People drove around for over 20 minutes searching for a place to park since the nearby garages were full leaving them no choice to wait for someone to leave or pay for valet ($20). Speaking with the valet people they mentioned that former parking lot will now be turned into a park. There will also be changes with the expo itself which has already taken place.  People had come to the expo from out of town and felt that “Miami as a city is under construction everywhere you go,” and it’s unfortunate that as much the city states they are making improvements, there doesn’t seem to be much of that going on.

Once inside the expo, the amount of people was to a surprise much less than last year along with the amount of booths taking place as well. The majority of the booths were taken up mostly by “big fish” companies such as T-Mobile, Cricket, Banks (providing business loans), VistaPrint and so on. I don’t mind these companies since they also provide support or assistance with small businesses, but what happened to the rest of the expo which was completely empty? Has the prices gone up on these booths that small businesses can’t afford or feel it’s not worth the profit? Perhaps it’s a little bit of both!

I would have to say I did gain some leads but not as much as last year which I expected due to the amount of people at the expo. Again, the speed networking area is a great area to visit as you have 3 minutes to listen to others what they have to offer. This area unlike last year seemed a bit unorganized as things went longer than 3 minutes and when time was up people didn’t hear when it was time to change and didn’t move. I ran into some start up IT management companies which were around for a few years and some who had just launched in the last few months. Rather than not listening to their offer, I was able to provide them some pointers on becoming more exposed to the public and recommended having accounts on social media sites and creating a website for the business as well. The demand between industries are high in Miami, but this does not mean we can’t help one another grow. Afterall, we are all in it for the same reason, be our own boss.

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